Airlines

United CEO has 'no sense' of when Boeing's 737 Max jet will fly again

Key Points
  • United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Wednesday that he has no idea when Boeing's grounded 737 Max jets will return to the skies.
  • United has grounded its 14 Boeing 737 Max jets through early July, along with other carriers like Southwest and American.
GP: Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Wednesday, April 24, 2019.
Jim Young | Bloomberg | Getty Images

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Wednesday that he has no idea when Boeing's grounded 737 Max jets will fly again.

"I think it's fair to say that we do not know yet ... We have really no sense of it at this point in time," he said on CNBC's "The Exchange."

The Max has been grounded since mid-March after its anti-stall software was implicated in crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia since October that killed a total of 346 people. United has grounded its 14 Boeing Max jets through early July, along with other carriers like Southwest and American.

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"It's important that when we return this aircraft to flight, that we do it in relative unison and lockstep around not just the U.S. but the world. So we'll have to monitor and engage that," Munoz said.

Boeing, which expects a $1 billion hit from the groundings, said Wednesday that it will pause share buybacks and is withdrawing its full-year 2019 financial forecast while it works works on a software update. The company has cut production and halted deliveries. It said it's completed 96 flights totaling more than 159 hours of air time with its new anti-stall software upgrade.

The Federal Aviation Administration said April 16 that its initial review showed Boeing's update to the MCAS system was "operationally suitable."

United Continental Holdings, parent company of United, reported earnings Tuesday that topped Wall Street estimates for first-quarter profit but missed on revenue. United has 16 Maxes scheduled for delivery in the second half of the year, and Munoz said that if the grounding continues the airline will feel the impact.

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Key Points
  • United's total revenue rises to $9.59 billion during the first quarter, up 6.2% from $9.03 billion during the same period in 2018.
  • The company's profit more than doubles to $292 million, or $1.09 per share, from $145 million during the same quarter last year.
  • United shares jump 2.9% after the markets close Tuesday.